The Art of Investment

By James Nicholls, International Art Editor of The Player

Feature article for the August/Nov 2014, issue


“The Player bookazine is the worldwide recognised forum for members to source services and product of the highest calibre.
Representing an audience of some of the worlds wealthiest men, featuring only the finest and most luxurious experiences.”

A very good friend of mine and a reader of The Player, said to me recently; “Ask me about investment markets, super yachts, sports cars, helicopters, property and even small leisure submarines, and I can tell you…but ask me about art for investment and I just don’t know but I want to know.”  A good comment. In future issues we plan to update you on excellent investment opportunities in all levels of the art market.

People are turning more and more to art as a way of investment. Smart people with wealth always want their money to work for them and yet at the same time they can enjoy the works on their walls, while they increase in value.

More people in the UK visit art galleries and museums than attend Premier League football matches and the new phenomenon that record numbers are flocking to the internet as well. Buying art is becoming an industry norm. The Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum are the 3 most popular attractions in the UK, each with over 5 million visitors in the last 12 months.

Now there is more art sold online than in galleries. When online art started, people were unsure about buying clothes and shoes online, so the idea that you could buy art online was unheard of. That’s totally shifted.

Rebecca Wilson, a director of Saatchi Gallery, stated that; “We sell more art in a month online than most bricks-and-mortar galleries do in a year.”

According to Hiscox Insurance, the stereotype of younger people being more tech-savvy is simply not true. Most collectors aged over 65 had bought art directly online.

45% of all buyers in the E-commerce auctions were entirely new clients. So now there is an appetite for collecting at all levels. A fifth of Christies buyers last year were people who had not bought art before. People look at art as a hard asset.

Auction previews are the best art shows in town

The large art auction houses have sale previews featuring some of the most stunning and historic art available. They know how to market set the art works off to the best advantage, making the viewing an enjoyable experience and a feast for the eyes. No wonder people come from all over the world for these previews.

In February, my wife and I visited sale previews at Christies and Sotherby’s in London. On show were masterpieces of Impressionist, Surrealist and Post War Contemporary Art. Both sales achieved historical results.Much of the art simply purchased by private collectors will not be seen again for many years.

The Post World War II period is currently the strongest selling art sector

It is recognized as one of the most creative artistic explosive periods of the 20th century.

Francis Outred, International Director, Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art for Christies, confirms that sales of Post War Contemporary Art in the last 20 months have risen dramatically by + 65%.

Last November, $142.4M was paid for a Francis Bacon Triptych of Lucien Freud, making it the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction. Jeff Koons ‘Balloon Dog,’ sold for $58.4M making it the most valuable work sold at auction so far for a living artist. An oversized Coca-Cola bottle by Andy Warhol sold for $57.3 million.

Basic key principles for acquiring art at any level

If you want to start acquiring art and developing a collection but aren’t prepared to drop millions of dollars on the masters, here are some basic and affordable principles to get your feet wet:

  1. Buy art with your eyes and not your ears. It must give you pleasure to look at it and enjoy.
  2. Find out about the artist. See if they have the potential to grow and become more established.
  3. It is about buying at the right price. Start at a comfortable level. Research about the value of the artist’s work such as the sales trends over the last few years
  4. It is most helpful if artists are being marketed, promoted, having exhibitions and are moving to higher-end galleries. These are indications that they have found a new level of respect and a collector base.
  5. Be aware and have proof of where the source of the artwork is from
  6. The provenance package on the artwork is important. For example, keep any receipts, brochures, Certificate of Authenticity, promotional material or newspaper and magazine clippings on the artist, as they all add to the value in the future.
  7. Use a reputable dealer that you trust and who will provide advice and information on an on-going basis. This is very important.

Post War Contemporary French Art

I have always been fascinated by the cutting edge artists who either were from, or came to live in the South of France attracted by the unique light of the Côte d’Azur.

It is interesting to see how various artists in the region successfully promoted themselves in places such as in New York and London, achieving international recognition, such as: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger,Marc Chagall, Yves Klein, Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau and Joan Miro.

For some time we lived in the Beau Rivage, overlooking the ocean, where Matisse had lived for his first two years in Nice. The story is that in 1916 at Christmas, he stayed for three weeks and it rained every day. However, on the day he was due to leave, the sun came out giving the most magnificent light, he was captivated and at once made the decision to settle there and work for the rest of his life.

My wife and I became very interested in the contemporaries of some of the great artists in the South of France, most all knew each other. We began to collect works about 18 years ago of artists from the L’École de Nice(The School of Nice), an artistic movement that developed in Nice from the late 1950s, which brought together many artists becoming international. It was because we liked them so much and helpful that they were reasonable in price.

Due to the outstanding success of the contemporary auctions, the demand for the works of a number of these artists has increased significantly in the last three to five years.

Recommendations by The Player

For The Player readers we have sourced some special works which are ideal examples of investment art for the future. Each work is at a reasonable price, has a Certificate of Authenticity and have an impeccable source.

These particular artists are becoming more recognised as some of the iconic leaders in the ‘French Modern & Post War Contemporary Art’ movement and their worksare passing into history.


Rotraut Mocquay Klein (b.1938)

The artist formally known as Rotraut is internationally feted. Her spectacular sculptures and paintings are featured in major galleries, institutions and outdoor settings world-wide.

A German artist, Rotraut went to live in Nice in 1957. She worked with and became the wife of the legendary French artist Yves Klein (1928-1962) who died at only 34 years of age. He was pioneer in the development of Performance art and is seen as an inspiration and forerunner of Minimal and Pop art.

Rotraut became the one to mix Yves Klein’s famous; International Klein Blue, for his creations. Yves Klein’s work; Le Rose du bleu (RE 22) sold for $36.8M at Christies in 2012 and last year at Sotherby’s, his  Sculpture; Éponge Bleue Sans Titre, Se 168, sold for $22M.

For the past decade Rotraut has concentrated primarily on sculpture – large, colourful, plastic pieces brimming with optimism.

Her work is featured beside the works of Yves Klein, in the renowned Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice.

Rotraut is married to the artist Daniel Moquay and lives in Arizona.


Charles Malausséna (1923-2003)

This multi-award winning artist was from Nice. He was the President of L’Association Varoise pour I’Expression Contemporaine, (Artists of the VAR, France – the most influential group of French artists).

Malausséna evolved his art into various dimensions as he wanted the viewer to experience a 3D effect of ‘sound and movement.’ He was active in promoting and helping to exhibit, talented new innovative artists from the region.


Albert Chubac (1925-2008)

Originally from Geneva, he came to live and work in the South of France. Similar to his contemporary Joan Miró, Chubac was one of the pioneers to emphasize on the use of primary colours, simple lines and two-dimensional geometric shapes.

Chubac boldly moved away from the established art movement and as a result continued to create striking works of art. His works are displayed in major national galleries, magazine covers, TV shows and the new ‘Grace of Monaco’ movie starring Nicole Kidman. Over 100 art works by Chubac are in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice.


Armand Avril (b.1926)

This acclaimed artist lives in Cotignac in the Var, South of France. He was a plasterer-painter until the 1950s but developed his own unique creative style and outlook on life.

He enjoys and is known for singular art with a primitive African bold sense of colour and style. Early in his career, Avril practiced almost exclusively in painting, with a figurative style like his contemporaries; Jean Dufy or Jean Fusaro.

In the 70’s he started to use combinations of objects or fixtures, carvings, making bas-reliefs made from bottle caps, clothespins, elements of children’s toys, croquet balls, glue, nails and cans. “The low price becomes priceless creates with artistic impact.”

Much has been written about Avril, and his artworks are highly sought after by collectors and museums internationally.